The Chichicastenango (ChiChi) markets are held in the highlands of Guatemala twice a week and though it’s a bit of a trek out there, it’s well worth the effort. Each Thursday and Sunday this sleepy town comes to life in a flourish of colour, as it plays host to the largest market in Central America.
We were fortunate to visit the ChiChi Markets on a festival day; the festive dancing, firecrackers, music and floats certainly made it a day to remember!
The markets welcome both locals and tourists and we were pleasantly surprised to find so many Guatemalans browsing for fresh ingredients and traditional clothes. It would seem that this market serves the locals first and foremost which makes it that much more appealing for a traveller wanting an authentic experience in this stunning country.
We elected to take a shared shuttle from Panajachel to the markets, leaving at 7am and departing ChiChi at 2pm. We could have caught a chicken bus which would have been significantly cheaper, but as we only had the one day (and had limited Spanish), we wanted to be sure we’d get to the right place in a reasonable timeframe.
We booked through Lake Atitlan for approx USD20 (return) each and were happy with their service, though there was a bit of confusion upon pick up as they were a little late. The trip itself was about 1.5 hours out of Panajachel, through the winding roads of Guatemala, with gorgeous views almost every step of the way.
If you have a good command of Spanish and plenty of time to spare, you could choose to catch one of the local chicken buses, as seen in the pictures below. I don’t doubt they’d make for an exciting ride!
We’d definitely recommend you planning your time in either Antigua or Panajachel to co-ordinate with a day at the ChiChi Markets!